To promote a healthy and safe event, this year’s Karneval celebration is going virtual!

Keep Karneval with us this year through a virtual discussion about the history and traditions of Karneval in Germany and at the Athenaeum.

Celebrated by pre-Christians as a means of driving out winter and evil spirits and welcoming in the springtime – in part through the role reversal of masters and slaves – it was later adopted by the church as a festive period to enjoy food, drink, and revelry before the fasting and the penitence of Lent.

Today, Karneval retains many of the traditions that began in the middle ages. It’s also known as Fasching or Fastnacht, depending on which part of Germany you’re in, and each carries different traditions.

The Athenaeum celebration is modeled after Karneval in Cologne, sister city to Indianapolis, and we’ll tell you all about our festivities and how you can join us!

Starting on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 minutes after the 11th hour, Karneval is a whole season – not just one night or the “Crazy Days.” We’ll be wrapping up this “fifth season” on Friday, February 12 at 6pm and look forward to sharing this exciting event with you from the safety of home. After this virtual gathering, you’ll be ready to celebrate Karnveal 2022 like a pro!


WHAT EXACTLY IS KARNEVAL: Our society strives on preserving the German traditions of celebrating Karneval, known here as Mardi Gras and celebrated all over Europe and the Americas. Throughout Germany, Bavaria to Bremen, east to west, Fasching, Fassenacht, Fastnacht or Karneval, also called the Fifth Season, is a time to forget about your everyday problems and enjoy lift to its fullest. Karneval dates back to festivals celebrated by the Romans and ancient Egyptians. The Roman Catholic Church assimilated these celebrations into the Christian calendar as the last festival before Lent. All major festivities are held in Catholic areas worldwide. In Germany, the oldest surviving records about Karneval are found in Köln dated March 5,1341.

During the Karneval season, Prinz Karneval is the rightful ruler of all and sovereign of joy. By his side are the Jungfrau and Bauer. The Jungfrau symbolizes Köln’s inaccessibility to enemy forces because they never managed to break through the city walls. Due to an extremely heavy costume and the exertion during his reign, the Jungfrau is a man. The Bauer, a peasant, symbolizes the old free city’s ability to defend itself. These three are better known as the Dreisgestirn. The Funkenmariechen date back to the 1700’s, when they were members of the military and would dance to entertain the soldiers. A look at Karneval today shows that the traditions of centuries ago remain.